Ritz: Shy Guy to World Class Thief

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As Dante, Bumbledore, and Sandy have all had dedicated posts, it’s only fair that Ritz get one as well. However, you should read Dante’s post before this one, as I won’t be repeating much information.

Early Life

I didn’t interact much with Ritz before we abduct — erm… adopted him from “the streets.” Technically, it was an under-porch den, but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Jim describes him as “very cautious and standoffish.”

On the day we’d planned to catch the siblings, we managed to nab Angus without too much trouble, and wrangle him into the carrier. We foolishly thought that, because they were small, we could fit them into a single carrier without much trouble. Oh, the naivete.

Jim managed to grab Ritz, but was at a bad angle for getting him into the carrier. The little guy turned into a buzzsaw. Those minute claws did serious damage to both Jim and I. And, in the carnage, Angus got free. *sigh*

We were able to catch Angus again that day and take him to King Street Cats, but not Ritz or Dante. It took a few days before Jim was able to grab Ritz again, but then his journey really began.

Bathroom Living

Ritz and Dante in a temporary cage.

As you should already know, Jim managed to catch Dante the next day. When it was just Ritz, the cage was adequate, but Dante’s addition (on top of the food and makeshift litter pan) made it too cramped for more than an hour or two. Rather pen them in the cage overnight, we let them out to explore their “temporary” home. You all know what happened next.

Both Ritz and Dante were quite docile away from Mama Moon. Little Ritz was more than happy to snuggle in my lap and fall asleep. That behavior held true for the entirety of their “introductory period” where they lived in our downstairs bathroom. He was the more eager of the two for pets, sometimes spending up to 15 minutes sitting with me, long past when his brother’s attention had wandered.

Ritzington (every cat should have a fancy name) was equally interested in pets and attention from Jim. He also developed a preference for snoot (nose) pets during those early days, and it persists.

Growing Like a Weed!!

There was nothing in Ritz’s kittenhood appearance to suggest his adult size. Like all kittens, he grew like a weed, but he didn’t stop growing. He still hasn’t stopped growing.

Ritz is officially the biggest cat in the house now. He’s taller, longer, and heavier than the other three. It may be hard to believe since Bumbledore still looks bigger (bulkier), but Ritz is pure muscle. Pick up up Mr. Ritzington is like lugging a sack of potatoes. He is one solid boy.

We’ve noticed that despite his musculature, he’s much less certain of his abilities than his brother is. His balance is often off, and he isn’t a great jumper, especially when jumping up high or onto narrow surfaces.He’s overly cautious, frequently electing not to make leaps that he could easily manage. I think his regular growth may contribute to his uncertainty. With his constantly changing center of balance, it’s hardly surprising that he finds certain activities difficult.

Now that I think of it, the same issue may be behind his seeming lack of awareness of how big he is. He could easily be dominant/top cat of the house. However, he is instantly submissive if Sandy or Bumble make any aggressive gestures. My original thought was that it may be because he still has a kitten mentality — he’s just under a year old. But if he’s uncertain of his abilities, he may not want to rock the boat.

Whenever, if ever, he decides he doesn’t want to be low man on the pecking order anymore, we may have a problem on our hands.

World Class Thief

As a result of his constant growing, Ritz is a bottomless pit. He always thinks he’s starving. He’s not, though, really. In between growth spurts, he develops this adorable little pot belly. Then one day he’s bigger and the belly is gone.

Anyway, this “always hungry” behavior has led to him becoming the best food thief I have ever seen. And by best I mean fastest.

He started as a typical kitten with zero impulse control. It took him some time, but he learned that not all food was his. He would try to be good; he’s sit, practically vibrating, eyes darting back and forth as he zeroed in on whatever he wanted. But, inevitably, his control would fail and he’d try to take whatever it was.

Ritz drinking water over Dante.
Patience never was Ritz strong suit.

I tried to praise him when he was being good, and tell him “no” when he wasn’t. But I think what he ended up learning was that I’d take him away from the goodies if I caught him. He changed tactics.

He started a grab-and-go technique. He’d snag something — anything — with his paw, then zip it back to his head and into his mouth and run off, all in the blink of an eye. One time, Jim had to chase him when he stole a whole quarter of a donut (thankfully not chocolate).

Ritz now attempts to steal food from everyone. I have to watch him like a hawk. He’ll listen if I tell him no, at least for a few moments. He doesn’t like getting in trouble. He also likes stealing nib housings, capstick, pill bottles — in short, anything that rolls well and/or makes good noises.

Trying Something New

A while ago, I changed my tactics with him, from forbidding him others’ food to making him wait to clean up leftovers. When one of the cats leaves their bowl because they’re finished (generally only a few morsels left), I let Ritz clean up. It seems to have helped the stealing at mealtimes.

He’ll wait, rather impatiently, for Sandy or Bumbledore to finish eating before licking their bowls clean. He and Dante eat together, and he makes sure his own bowl is spotless. When Ritz patience wears thin, he’ll stick a pow out to nab a piece of food that has fallen out of the bowl onto the floor. I do my best to discourage that and to make him wait further away from the bowls. It’s not polite to hover like a vulture.

Treats!!

Nothing, however, can discourage him from stealing treats. We have to make sure that we only give the cats treats directly into their mouths and that they start chewing, otherwise Ritz will steal it from them. He’s determined. I always scold him for it, but he doesn’t seem to care.

Teenaged Brattiness

Lately, Ritz has started getting up on the kitchen counters, where he knows he’s not allowed. I think he’s foraging, nevermind his little belly bulge that clearly shows he’s eating enough. But when I catch him and tell him to get down, he talks back, giving me a whiny mew, even as he does as I ask.

I’m really hoping it’s just a bratty phase. He used to be much better behaved, and wouldn’t complain when he was caught being bad. I’d like to get back to that, if possible.

The Road Ahead

Ritz has many years with us ahead of him, and I look forward to seeing how his personality continues to evolve. And how much bigger he’s going to get! Keep an eye on my instagram account for updates on all my boys. Thanks for reading!

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